Before the Shooting: five portraits: #4. Deanna Metz

#4. Deanna Metz

Deanna Metz hated fixing eggs for her father.  She hated cracking them; hated smelling them; hated even looking at them.  When he was done eating, she always showered to wash away all traces of breakfast. Her mother had been gone since last week.  Deanna worried that this time she wouldn’t come back.

Deanna watched the steam rising from the eggs.  They were almost done.  She flipped on the kitchen fan so the smoke detector wouldn’t go off.  She knew better than to wake her father before breakfast was ready.  She’d learned that the first time her mother had left on a business trip, back when Deanna was twelve. “You’re mother’s not here,” he’d told her, “so you’ll have to do.”

Deanna picked up the small Lucite pepper grinder her mother kept on the stove and lightly seasoned the two eggs she was cooking in the large cast iron skillet along with four strips of bacon.  She was careful with the pepper.  Last time she’d put on too much.  Her father screamed at her and threw the plate.  He wouldn’t let her clean herself until she’d cooked him a new breakfast.  She’d been late for school and gotten a detention.

This morning she couldn’t be late.  Not today.  She needed to be careful.  She had big plans for the morning.  She was going to meet Ryan after second period. She placed paper towels on a plate and spread the bacon on them to absorb the grease.  She turned off the heat.

Deanna wondered why her mother had stayed with her father so long. He was a creature of habit.  She had cooked the same breakfast every morning for nineteen years. When her mother started traveling for work, her father told Deanna that she would have to assume her mother’s duties.  One of those duties was breakfast.

Deanna shook off the memory and turned the eggs one last time. This morning when her father had rolled over on the bed and shaken her, Deanna was already awake.  How could she sleep, knowing what today was? “Fix my eggs,” he murmured, “while I catch twenty winks.” She’d gotten up, wearing only her Nixon Warbirds nightshirt and went to prepare breakfast.
Deanna shut off the gas burner.  She removed the paper towels from the bacon and plated the eggs.  They were perfect.  She’d done everything he’d asked.  Now she could wake him.

When she got back to her bedroom, she heard him snoring.  She eased open the door and stepped in, the cast iron fry pan was still in her hand.  She realized she’d left the plate with the bacon and eggs back in the kitchen.

“Daddy,” she said softly, “you need to wake up.”

As he roused, she stepped over to him.  He noticed the empty pan in her hand.  “Where’s my breakfast?”

“I have it right here.”  She grabbed the black handle with both hands and lifted the iron pan high above her head and brought it down with all her weight. She heard the bones crack in his nose and forehead and jaw.  She slammed the fry pan down three more times before the gurgling sound in the back of his throat fell silent.

She put her hand in front of what was left of his mouth.  He wasn’t breathing. The front of her nightshirt was covered with grease spots, blood, flesh, teeth, and bone fragments.

Deanna walked back to the kitchen.  She threw out the eggs and bacon, choosing to eat a toasted bagel and peanut butter instead.  She put the dishes in the dishwasher even though she knew the cast iron pan shouldn’t go there and started the dishwasher.  It would be clean if her mother ever came back.  Then she took a quick shower and hurriedly put on her makeup.  “I don’t want to be late for World History.”

 

 

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